[ocr errors][ocr errors]

God promised Abraham to give him the Land of Canaan for an Inheritance; which, as I have already fhewn you, included in it the Promife of Heaven. And the Mofaical Difpenfation confirms this many ways. When Abraham was commanded by God to leave his own Country and his Father's House, and to follow him into a ftrange Land; from that Time he lived, as it were, out of this World. And when God in his own appointed Time fulfilled this Promise to Abraham's Pofterity, by giving them Poffeffion of Canaan for an Inheritance; this Land it felf was separated from the reft of the World, as if it were no Part of it. They were to live by themselves, and to be a World by themselves to have no Communication with the Idolatrous Nations; and fuch at that Time all the Nations of the World were. None were permitted to live among them, who did not worship the one Supreme God, the God of Ifrael, and no other God befides him. For this was a holy Land, which God had chofen for himself, to place his Name there. And they were a holy and a peculiar People, feparated to the peculiar Worship and Service of God. Now is it poffible to expound all this to a mere literal Sense? Can we poffibly think, that God who is the Maker of the World, and the Sovereign Lord of all, fhould feparate Canaan from the rest of the World, and the Children of Ifrael from the reft of Mankind, only to have a little Spot of Earth, and a little handful of Men on it, whom he would call his own? If God defigned only to have a People in this World, why did he not affert his Authority over all Mankind; and make himself as much known to them all, as he did to Ifrael? Why did he feparate Canaan, and fe


parate Ifrael from the reft of the World, when the whole World and all Mankind are equally his? If God's Covenant with Ifrael were a mere temporal Covenant, it were impoffible to give any Account of this Matter. But when all Mankind were declined to Idolatry, it became the divine Wisdom by extraordinary Methods to preferve a holy Seed in the World; and to fe parate them from the Converfation of Idolaters by peculiar Laws and Rites of Worship, to ferve the Ends of his Grace and Providence in future Ages. But this is not my prefent Bufinefs. What I have now to observe is only this: That fince God had separated Ifrael, and feparated Canaan from the reft of the World; they had reason to think, that his Covenant and Promifes were not confined to this World, when it separated them from this World, and would not allow them any Converfation in it. For to take them out of this World, even while they lived in it, and to do this as a peculiar Act of Grace and Favour, could fignify nothing lefs, than that they were not of this World; but that he had referved a better World, and more divine Converfation, for the true Ifraelites. And therefore, as I obferved before, after God had given them the Poffeffion of the Land of Canaan; good Men ftill owned themselves to be Pilgrimş and Strangers upon Earth.

Thus God promifed his Prefence to them, that he would dwell among them, and be their God. This he did in the Tabernacle in the Wildernefs, where was the Ark of the Covenant; and when they were fettled in Canaan, David defigned and Salomon built him an House, where he took up his Abode and Reft, and dwelt between the Cherubims, and was dai


ly attended by his Priests and Ministers. But when all the Earth is God's, as well as Canaan, and he is present in all Places; Why had he his Temple only in Canaan? Why did he promise his Prefence only to Ifrael? Truly I can give no other Account of it but this; that his Dwelling with them in the Temple, was a Pledge of their Dwelling with him in Heaven; that as God fills Heaven and Earth, yet his immediate Prefence is only in Heaven, there is his Throne and visible Glory; fo of all the Places on Earth he chofe Canaan for his peculiar Refidence. The Temple was his Earthly Throne, where God dwelt among them. But what was the Happinefs of this, if it did not entitle them to be tranflated into the Prefence of God? The Promife of a Land, where God would dwell among them, could receive its juft Accomplishment in no other Place but Heaven.

And this was a good Reafon for devout Men to expound all thofe Bleffings God promised them in the Land of Canaan, if they observed his Statutes and Judgments, of the fpiritual Bleffings of the heavenly Canaan. That long Life in the Earthly Canaan fignified immortal Life in the heavenly; that Peace, and Plenty, and Riches, and Honour, fignified the Eafe and Self-enjoyment, Dignity and Perfection of that happy State. Thus Solomon applies it, Prov. 3. 13. and following Verfes, Happy is the Man that findeth Wisdom, the Man that getteth UnderStanding; for the Merchandife of it is better than the Merchandife of Silver, and the Gain thereof than fine Gold: Length of Days is in her Right Hand, and in her Left Riches and Honour. She is a Tree of Life (which we know was to beftow Immortality on Man) to every one that lay


eth hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth ber. And thus St Paul expounds the Promife of long Life in the Fifth Commandment: Honour thy Father and thy Mother, which is the firft Commandment with Promife, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayeft live long upon the Earth, Eph. 6. 2, 3. which he applied to the Ephefians, who never lived in Canaan, nor were ever like to live there. But long Life in the promised Land did not merely fignify long Life in Canaan, but Immortality in Heaven. The Gospel it felf represents the Happinefs of the other World, by Life, Riches, Glory, a Crown, a Kingdom. For we have no other way of conceiving thefe invifible Things, but by fenfible Images and Representations. And therefore in a Typical State, which was the State of the Jewish Church, the Promises of temporal Bleffings in a temporal Canaan, might very properly be expounded as Figures of eternal Life and Bleffednefs in the Kingdom of God. And fo St Paul feems to understand it, when he tells us, Godliness bath the Promife both of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come. So it was under the Law: Though the express Letter of the Law contained only temporal Bleffings, yet they included all the fpiritual Bleffings of another Life; and were fo understood by good Men. As now under the Gofpel, though the most exprefs Promises we have are of immortal Life, yet they contain in them God's peculiar Care and Providence over us in this World; that if we feek first the Kingdom of God and bis Righteousness, all thefe Things Shall be added unto us.


0 2

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Thirdly, To confirm this, I obferve farther, that God gave the fame Laws to Ifrael as the Condition of their Happiness and Prosperity in the Land of Canaan, which he now requires us to obferve, to qualify us for the Happiness of Heaven. And it is reasonable to think, confidering the Wisdom, Juftice, and Goodness of God, that where the Conditions are the fame, the Happiness alfo fhould be the fame.

The Ten Commandments are acknowledged to be the Summary of all natural and moral Laws; and the Ceremonial and ritual Obfervances of the Law, were intended to fignify all that fpiritual Purity of Heart and Mind, which is now required by the Gofpel. Circumcifion, and Washings, and Purifications, and abftaining from unclean Meats, and a great many other Obfervances, were to teach them the most divine Virtues, viz. the Circumcifion of the Heart, to wash them and make them clean, to put away the Evil of their Doings, and to learn to do well, as their own Prophets expound them. Their Sabbatick Reft, their Publick Fafts, and Festivals, and Sacrifices, which contained all the Parts of natural Worfhip, with all the instituted Signs and Expreffions of it, and which good Men understood to be of no Value without internal Piety and Devotion of Mind, which they were intended to fignify: I fay, these and fuch like Laws were the Terms of God's Covenant with Ifrael. And there is nothing more, if we confider the true Intent and Signification of thefe Laws, required of us under the Gospel, to entitle us to Heaven. Which is a very good Reason to think, that Heaven was promised them under the Type and Figure of a temporal Canaan. And certainly thus the Pfalmift under


« VorigeDoorgaan »